Chapter 13 Education and the Reconstruction of a Democratic Society

Two Main Themes in Dewey’s Philosophy of Education

In: John Dewey and Chinese Education
WANG Chengbing
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Education and the reconstruction of a democratic society are two themes about which Dewey was especially concerned throughout his life. On the one hand, Dewey regarded education as growth, emphasizing that the end of education is nothing but itself. Dewey received a barrage of criticism for this, as some people saw it as a theory advocating the aimlessness of education. On the other hand, the growth in Dewey’s theory is more than the growth of the individual: it also involves thinking from a social perspective, and thus is democracy-oriented growth. However, Robert B. Westbrook and Aaron Schutz point out that Dewey’s method of starting with local communities to develop a Great Community has its problems, and his proposal to transform society through schools also faces enormous difficulties. This chapter firstly clarifies Dewey’s concept of growth. Then, it discusses the relationships among growth, education, and democracy in Dewey’s thoughts. Finally, it analyzes the problems that existed during the development of a democratic society and argues for Dewey’s ideal of a Great Community, which has been questioned.

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  • Introduction A Centennial Reflection on Dewey’s Visit of China


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